On a trip to Rajasthan, photographer Adam Brown (below) was so appalled by his friends’ efforts at summer dressing that he started his own swimwear range. Here, the co-founder of Orlebar Brown (Best Hotel Pool partner at the Smith Hotel Awards 2015) explains how not to look ‘ghastly’ while catching rays. It’s timely advice for anyone in search of some winter sun…
You were a photographer originally. Did you just pick up a pen and start designing?
On that fateful holiday it struck me that the women by the pool looked fantastic, but the men were wearing too-baggy board shorts or too-tight trunks. The idea for Orlebar Brown became clear when we had to change to have lunch at the hotel bar; I felt there was a need for a smart and practical pair of shorts suitable for swimming and wearing to lunch.
You’ve said men in beachwear can look ‘pretty ghastly’. What are the most common fashion crimes of men on warm-weather holidays?
Most fashion faux pas are easily avoided; the most common are poor fit and styling. Tailored pairs of swim shorts are more flattering than the all-too-common baggy boxer-type short, which sags the minute you emerge from the pool. Remember that darker skin tones suit a brighter palette; and while vibrant colours and a shorter short (such as our Springer style) are fine for a pool party in Ibiza, a friend’s 40th birthday requires something classic, like our navy Bulldog shorts.
The Orlebar Brown range looks great on models, but what about those who ‘carry their successes on their waistline’?
Tailoring makes everyone look better. It’s the same formula we apply to our OB Classic swim shorts. The right fabric and fit are key to a flattering style. Our fabric doesn’t cling when you’re coming out of the water and our waistbands have four parts – infinitely more slimming than elastic digging into your side.
Let’s say I’m off to Mexico or the Maldives for some winter sun and want to pack light. What outfit do I need to go from beach to lunch to drinks in one day?
One pair of OB Classic shorts will take you from beach to bar (and possibly a Ridley shirt, depending on how louche the venue is). We make four different leg lengths: Springer [for fans of short shorts], Setter, Bulldog and Dane [for the fuller-thighed gent].
What’s on your travel to-do list for 2016? Where do you want to go for the first time?
We trekked over Himalayan foothills in Bhutan this year, which inspired me to go trekking in Punta del Este, Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Ecuador, before staying in the Atacama Desert for a week. It’s my first time in Chile, so I’m excited to explore.
WHERE TO WEAR YOUR ORLEBAR BROWNS
If you’re a Springer You’ve got chutzpah to spare, so slip on a pair of these bum-skimmers for parading around Ibizan stay Can Curreu‘s pretty pool. Pick bubble gum or tangerine shorts over navy or turquoise, if you want your well-dressed cheeks to really pop against the hotel’s dazzling white walls.
If you’re a Setter These are the shorts from Skyfall – the ones Daniel Craig pulled an Ursula Andress in. Travel to Fethiye on the Turkish riviera (where the iconic scene was shot) for a re-enactment; then stay at Villa Mahal (roughly an hour’s drive away), a coastal stay with seaside platforms to pose on.
If you’re a Bulldog With its Churchill-esque moniker and shades to suit pasty types (choose merlot, navy or khaki over the Pucci prints) we reckon this swim short is ideal for a British seaside jaunt to Cornwall. Trevose Harbour House is a vision in whites and blues, and it’s just a few steps from the beach.
If you’re a Dane These refined chaps are the kind of trunks you could wear to meet the Queen – the most daring shade they come in is blue ombre, and the just-above-the-knee hem is both demure and dashing. St Tropez stay Cap Estel is the perfect catwalk for a pair. They instantly go from hot-tub to hob-nobbing and there’s no danger of ahem, shifting baggage.